Drinking Water Woes Continue In Michigan and California

Photo by Ben Gordon, Flickr-Creative Commons

This week the vulnerabilities in the nation’s drinking water supplies once again came into full view.  In California, a study for the state’s water resources control board revealed that 60% of California’s public water supply wells contain toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, the so-called forever chemicals. Meanwhile, citizens in Flint, Michigan filed a lawsuit on behalf of 2,600 children claiming that three big banks that were funding a pipeline project caused the city to rely on the Flint River as a temporary water source with an ill-equipped water plant while the new pipeline was being built.

Why This Matters:  Our drinking water is not as clean as it should be in many parts of the country — as Americans deserve it to be.  In Michigan, a state known for its bounteous freshwater, it is unthinkable that people don’t have clean water to drink.  Thousands of children will suffer the consequences of drinking it for their entire lives.  Officials in California acknowledged that the problem is so pervasive they cannot “treat their way out of it.”  The only way to solve the problem for good is by protecting our waters from pollution in the first place.  

PFAS In California

According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to PFAS chemicals can cause developmental issues in children, increase the risk of certain cancers, suppress the immune system, and can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, which is particularly troubling given how we are counting on vaccines to help overcome the pandemic.  Bloomberg News reported that the samples were taken in 2019, and the results “shed new light on the presence of PFAS contamination and areas that could be vulnerable based on proximity to known sources like airports and landfills.”

Lawsuit In Michigan

The Detroit News reported that, as alleged in the lawsuit, if it were not for JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. underwriting a bond sale to pay for the Flint pipeline upgrade, the city would have continued to buy water from Detroit.  The city of Flint did not have the funds to pay to upgrade the plant or to use the Flint River in the interim.  But one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit argues that the banks “knew 100% that if they participated in the bond sale, children would get hurt, children would be brain damaged” but they underwrote the bonds anyway “because of the money that they stood to earn.”  The plaintiffs are seeking a damage award of up to $2 billion.  One of the mothers of a child exposed who has become an activist as a result of the experience told the Detroit News “The banks that put profit over safety need to be held to the same standard as everybody else and they deserve to pay for the lives of lives that they have devastated.”

Up Next

California to Nestlé: Stop Draining Our Water

California to Nestlé: Stop Draining Our Water

As California’s drought conditions are worsening, Nestle is pumping millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino forest. State water officials have drafted a cease-and-desist order to force the company to stop overpumping from Strawberry Creek, which provides drinking water for about 750,000 people. 

Why This Matters: It’s not the first time other states have also tried to reign in Nestle for its water grabs.

Continue Reading 377 words
Maine’s Lakes on Thin Ice

Maine’s Lakes on Thin Ice

The ice-out date for Maine’s Lake Auburn is now three weeks earlier than it was two centuries ago, the Portland Press Herald reports, and other lakes across New England show similar trends. Climate change is not good for ice, and that includes Maine’s lakes that freeze over every winter. 

Why This Matters: A disrupted winter with lakes that “defrost” earlier has multiple knock-on effects for freshwater: in addition to harming fish in lakes, the resulting large cyanobacteria algae blooms that form can be harmful to human health.

Continue Reading 479 words
Over 80% of Mexico Affected by Drought Conditions 

Over 80% of Mexico Affected by Drought Conditions 

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Drought conditions cover 85% of Mexico as lakes and reservoirs dry up across the country. Mexico City is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years, and the reservoirs and aquifers are so depleted that some residents don’t have tap water. The capital city relies on water pumped in from […]

Continue Reading 460 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.